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News and Comments - Kent Independent Education Advice

News and Comments

The latest news posted by Peter J Read; just click on a news item below to read it in full. Feel free to subscribe to the news via the email link to the right or the RSS Feed at the bottom of the page. Please note that the over 800 regular subscribers who receive each news item directly are not included in the number of readers recorded below the item, who have gone beyond the headlines to look at the full article.  If you have a view on any item posted, please leave a comment.

Please feel free to suggest items of news, or areas where comment is needed to: peter@kentadvice.co.uk.

 
News items below appear below as and when I have time in a very busy schedule supporting clients.

Update: Now with news of record outcome for Medway Reception Year Allocations (5 p.m. Tuesday)

Good news for most Kent families applying for reception class places in primary schools as the outcome figures are very close to the record 2018 placements. 89.4% of families have been offered their first choice school, against 89.5% in 2018. The total number of allocations to Kent pupils is up by 53 to 17,286, whilst the number of children with no school of their choice is up by 57 to 2.6%.

For Medway, the very brief press release is identical to that of 2018, except for four numbers, just three of which are relevant, quoted below. A great pity, as with a little bit of effort the Council could have been proud of its delivery of a record proportion of pupils being offered one of the schools on their application form, at more than 85%. 

I am waiting for detailed oversubscription and vacancy figures at both Reception and Junior School level to be sent, both for Kent and Medway and will publish these as soon as possible, probably into May. You may find the equivalent picture for 2018 allocations helpful, as it conducts a detailed survey of the issues in each of Kent's 16 Districts (my  definition, more local than the official 12!).

You will find advice below on what to do if you have not received a school of your choice, together with a breakdown of offers for both Kent and Medway over the past four years. 

You will also find information and advice on appeals below and  here. In summary, if your school is one of the overwhelming majority where Infant Class Legislation applies, chances are negligible. 


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Wednesday, 10 April 2019 12:52

Medway Non-Selective Schools Allocation 2019

Pressure on places in Medway Non-Selective schools continues to be intense, with 80% of pupils being awarded their first choice school. Another 204 children, or 9.3% of the total, received no school of their choice, well up on last year's 136. The situation was exacerbated by a fall of 35 in the number of places available. As a result, there were only 34 vacancies in three schools, just 1.4% of the total. The most oversubscribed school is Brompton Academy, as it has been for many years, turning away 218 first choices.

Brompton Academy

It is followed by Thomas Aveling with 72 children rejected. Some places will be freed up and re-allocated by successful grammar school appeals, but there are unlikely to be many successful appeals at Brompton, with just five appeals upheld out of 65 in 2018, in a typical year. You will find the full table of appeal outcomes below.

Probably the biggest Medway story is that of St John Fisher Catholic Comprehensive, whose popularity has declined every year since 2014, with just 46 children placing it first choice, with 101 being allocated there by Medway Council, having been offered no school of their choice, presumably few if any having a Catholic background. Its very Catholic ethos proves very difficult for many of those without a Catholic faith to cope with.

Overall, as in Kent, there is considerable polarisation with each of the oversubscribed schools becoming more popular this year, hence the soaring number of Local Authority Allocations (LAAs).


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Index

All Medway boys and girls who are grammar qualified will have been offered a place at Chatham Girls or Holcombe if they did not get one elsewhere and applied to one of these two. An example of  what I am coming to regard as 'Medway Madness' which affects both the Local Authority and some local schools, the Council has unlawfully deprived late applicants including those moving into Medway of their right to be considered at a grammar school, as explained here. This follows the complete breakdown of the Medway Review process, with just 4 Medway pupils having a Review upheld, out of 159. 

Only one grammar school, Chatham Girls, had vacancies. 242 out of Medway candidates have been offered places out of 1042 in total. This amounts to 23%, or nearly a quarter of all the places offered, and is well up on 2018's 185 offers to children from outside Medway. 

An additional 68 new places have been created, 38 at Chatham Girls and 30 at Fort Pitt, although The Rochester Grammar School took away the 30 extra places it has offered for the past two years, probably for reasons outlined below. 

Rochester Grammar      SJWMS1

The Rochester Grammar School was by a long way the most oversubscribed grammar in Medway, turning away 121 grammar school qualified first choices, as a result of seeing its pass mark to soar to its highest ever, the year before it scraps super selection completely.  It is followed by Sir Joseph Williamson's Mathematical School (The Math) with 70 first choice boys turned away.  

I look in more detail at the outcomes, including the situation for each grammar school individually, below.


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Index

You will find the parallel article looking at Kent Non-selective schools here. Medway Schools to follow. Please note that the two articles on secondary school allocation in Kent had over 27,000 hits last year, being the two longest and most popular I publish. If there are corrections to be made, or you would like any section expanded or clarified, please let me know. 

The number of Kent grammar school places available for Year 7 pupils has risen by just 20 overall since last year, to 5469, with a total increase of 535 over the past five years.  The biggest change is an increase of 30 places at Simon Langton Boys to 150, although its popularity has dropped sharply. There are currently 217 empty spaces for September (up from 184 in 2018), in ten grammar schools including three of the four Maidstone grammars.

(Most figures in this paragraph are approximate, see below): 417 of the 5252 Kent grammar school places offered, or 8% (down from 9% in 2018) of the total, went to pupils from outside of the county (ooc), with  223 pupils going to out of county grammars, mainly in Medway. 147 pupils coming in were offered places at the two Dartford Grammar schools. As a result, the pressure on places at these two schools continues to rise inexorably along with the two Wilmington grammars, led by Dartford Grammar School with a record 476 grammar qualified first choices for its 180 places, up from 460 in 2018.  The next most popular schools were unsurprisingly Dartford Girls, The Judd School, and Tonbridge Grammar.

dgs        dggs 2

As far as I am aware there is just one black spot for grammar school applications, North West Kent, especially around Swanscombe and Greenhithe, where a number of grammar qualified children have been offered no grammar school place, although most applied for two or three of the local schools.

I look at the outcomes below in more detail, including levels of oversubscription and vacancies together with a look at each school individually. I have also included a new measure which is the change in popularity, throwing up some interesting trends.


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Index

Parallel article on Ken grammar schools now here
 
The main themes of 2019 allocations to non-selective secondary schools in Kent are the increased pressure on places following a 4.6% increase in numbers, and the increased polarisation of choices. KCC has worked hard with individual schools to provide additional places in some areas, with 497 extra places being provided in the non-selective sector, although 113 were removed from schools since 2018 allocations, for different reasons. After allocation there were just 434 vacancies out of the 13,708 available, a total of 3.2%, down from 3.9% in 2018.
 
St Georges Foundation        King Ethelbert 2
 
Six Districts were left with no non-selective vacancies at all, in spite of the extra places added in: Ashford; Canterbury; Dartford; Gravesham Maidstone; Sevenoaks. However, there will be considerable churning in the next few months, following successful grammar school appeals, appeals in the more popular schools and waiting list promotion in some of these areas.
You will find a list of the most oversubscribed schools below, led by St George’s CofE Foundation School in Broadstairs as in 2018, this year followed by King Ethelbert School also in Thanet.
 
Just 12 of the 68 schools have vacancies at this time. Nine schools each have over 40 Local Authority Allocations (LAAs). Each of these, identified below, has been the subject of concern expressed in previous articles on this site. One school, Holmesdale which had 41% vacancies in 2018 before Local Authority Allocations, has seen this soar to 60% for 2019 with several other schools seeing a rise of over 10% in their vacancy rate. 
 
I look more closely below at the most oversubscribed schools and those with most vacancies, together with the situation in each District, along with the impact of out of county applications.

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Please see Important Update Below

The Guardian Newspaper has today (03/04/19) published a news item about a girl with mental health problems who was placed in an Isolation Room, on a repeated basis when she ‘failed’ to comply, reaching the stage where she developed depression and attempted suicide.

Prior to the intervention of lawyers in mid-March, she had spent every day since mid-January in isolation, meaning she had to remain silent throughout the day and had no directed teaching.

 Although the school is not identified by name it is described as a school in Kent.

I am delighted that someone has at long last taken legal action to try and stop such practices for I have written about them regularly, describing such punishment as 'child abuse'. 


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Some children of families who are amongst the many re-locating to Medway,  and local children who are late developers, may be denied  grammar school places this year as there is no facility to sit the Medway Test late, contrary to previous practice.  This is because the Council quietly changed its selection procedures last year so that only children who are registered at the correct time can ever sit the Medway Test, which takes place in September.

Medway

Late applicants are therefore effectively barred from being considered for Medway grammar school places which require a Medway Test outcome for admission (the two Chatham grammars have a secondary route via the Kent Test). Most grammar schools have not made arrangements to put an alternative form of testing in place for admission this September, the combination being contrary to Medway's own co-ordinated scheme for secondary admissions.    

 The consequences of this decision by Medway Council are wide ranging and may well spell the end of the Medway Test as an objective standard for grammar school entry in Medway, with each grammar school defining the standard and setting its own test for entry, as explored further below.  The last time I collected data for late sitters of the Medway Test was for admission in September 2017, when there were 80, 53 from within Medway, 27 from outside, including 16 applicants from the London Boroughs, of whom 47 were successful.  

Also, the Council has also been acting unlawfully for years in putting conditions on late admissions to other Medway schools, although these appear to have been withdrawn from 2020/21.


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You will find more detailed information on Kent grammar school allocation here, and for non-selective schools here
 
The initial data for applicants for Kent secondary schools shows that 79.1% of  those from Kent were  offered their first choice. This is the lowest percentage for at least nine years. 837 children been given none of their four choices, at 4.7% of the total, again the highest proportion for at least nine years, up on last year’s 765 and up by 75% over the 2016 proportion of 2.7%. The proportion of children being offered one of their top two preferences at 90.3% is down on 90.7% in 2018, and again lowest for nine years. 

17,959 Kent children applied for places in Kent secondary schools, 517 more than in 2018, with 79.1% of them being offered their first choice. This is the lowest percentage for at least nine years, a further 0.6% down on last year. 837 children been given none of their four choices, at 4.7% of the total, again the highest proportion for at least nine years, up on last year’s 765. I know that a number of additional school places have been created at pinch points across the county, but I anticipate hearing of some very difficult situations for some of the children with no school of their choice.

In spite of the inexorable increase in out of county applications to Kent schools, up 225 to 3,514, exactly the same number, 818, were offered places, as in 2018. As always this  will have been partially balanced by around 500 going to schools outside Kent.

You will find more information, including a look at some of the pressure points as they become apparent, below. These include North West Kent both selective and non-selective, and non-selective Swale, Thanet and Tunbridge Wells.  You will also find required scores for super-selective schools (all information on both situations welcomed) together with the tables of outcomes

There is initial advice at the foot of the article on what to do if you have not been offered the school of your choice. This begins as always with my Corporal Jones mantra, do NOTHING in panic! You may regret it. There is no quick fix. 

There is also a link to the limited telephone advisory service I now offer. 


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